By Neal Pollard
They both had a mole next to one eye and a scar on the left wrist. They lived 54 miles apart, one in Brookville and the other in Mooresville, Indiana. It was said they were practically identical twins. For notorious bank robber John Dillinger, that was no problem. But, for upstanding Ralph Alsman, it was a nightmare. Alsman was arrested 17 times and shot 11 times. Only when the real Dillinger was gunned down in 1934 did the unbelievable saga end for Alsman.
Who or what would people mistake us for? As we live out our lives before the world, waiting in lines or in traffic, when under pressure at work, as people mistreat or frustrate us, judging from our relationships, our ethics, and our morality, would people say that we strongly resemble Jesus? He is supposed to be living in us (Gal. 2:20).
Every day, we want to look more like Jesus. We should want people to see Him when they look at us.
Yes, I believe in the “laws of nature.”But there is more to it than that. There is a power beyond the natural law. There is God; there is Christ; there is the Spirit. Above and beyond and in control is God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Paul in the Book of Colossians writes of the role of Christ in creation saying: “By him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him.” He then adds, “And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.” (Colossians 1:16-17) That is, not only is He the creator of all things but it is by Him that all things continue to exist.
The book of Hebrews affirms the same thing. In giving a list of six wondrous things about the Son of God, the writer includes this: “Upholding all things by the word of his power.” (Hebrews 1:3) That is, just as in the original creation of the world, God spoke and it was done, even now the whole creation is upheld by the word of Christ.
In the year that king Uzziah died Isaiah the prophet saw “the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up.” He also heard the seraphims crying : “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of host: the whole earth is full of his glory.” Isaiah was so awed that he cried out, “Woe is me! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.” Then one of the seraphims laid a live coal upon his mouth and said, “Thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged.” Afterwards he heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Isaiah promptly answered, “Here am I; send me.”
Isaiah stepped up! At our Sunday evening services for several weeks we have been discussing how we may improve the congregation. The discussion has been good. We have identified some areas in need of improvement. We have had some good suggestions. Now we need to talk about stepping up. The topic for next Sunday evening will be: Who needs to step up? How ought we to support those who do step up? Why are we reluctant to step up? Etc, etc, etc.
Some of the great heroes of the Old Testament were at first very reluctant. Moses for example had his excuses but then accepted God’s challenge and became a great leader in Israel. Jonah fled from God when told to go preach to Nineveh but later went and the entire city repented. Can some of us possibly overcome our reluctance?
The apostle Paul wrote of the gospel story: “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.” (1 Timothy 3:16)
It is certainly an amazing story. It is the story of the incarnation, that is, divinity taking human flesh and living as a man. It is the story of the Spirit and of angels. It is the story of the gospel message proclaimed to the world and believed by thousands. Finally, it is the story of Jesus’ ascension into glory. No wonder that Paul said, “Without controversy great is the mystery of godliness.” Even unbelievers have to admit that it is a fantastic story.
But what is so amazing is the fact that it is a true story. It is a story told by the men who were there. It is a story confirmed by the martyrdom of the witnesses. It is a story that was foretold by the great prophets of the Old Testament. Truly, it is a fantastic story.
The writer of the book of Hebrews speaks of two sacrifices that God wants from His people: “By him [Jesus] therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name. But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.” (Hebrews 13:15-16) Here we are called upon to offer two types of sacrifices to God.
First, we are to offer “the sacrifice of praise…that is the fruit of our lips.” This we do in both song and prayer. In the Old Testament, God was praised with instruments of music (Psalm 150), but under the Christian system we offer “the fruit of our lips.”
Second, we offer the sacrifice of good works. We are to “do good” and to “share”, for God is pleased with such sacrifices. Whenever we help our fellowman, God views it as an offering to Himself. There is a proverb which says: “He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the Lord” then adds this: “And that which he hath given will he pay him again.” (Proverbs 19:17)
Let us always remember these two sides to the Christian life. We must offer our worship to God and also live lives of helping others.